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Supplier Diversity

IBM is committed to diversity in all parts of its business—and has been for more than one hundred years.

IBM’s history of maintaining a diverse supply chain is no exception. The company first established a global supply chain diversity program in 1968. This was four years before the establishment of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and 29 years before the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). We are the first IT company to conduct more than $1 billion of business with diverse suppliers in the United States. And we learned early on that fostering diversity is not only the right thing to do for society, but for business as well. A diverse supplier base not only provides talent, it also helps add stability throughout our supply chain—and promotes economic growth in local communities.

In 2011, IBM conducted $3.2 billion of global business with first- and second-tier diverse suppliers. Of that, $2.5 billion was conducted with first-tier suppliers (world wide), up from $2.3 billion in 2010, inclusive of $881 million of business with first-tier, non-US-based diverse suppliers.

Also, a full-time supplier diversity position was created in the U.K. in 2011 to give added focus to diversity in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In 2010, IBM created a full-time supplier diversity position in China, one of the first companies to do so. These positions were created because supplier diversity is not as well known in many other countries, especially as compared to workforce diversity. IBM continues to place emphasis on these growth markets.

For these and other accomplishments over the course of 2011, IBM’s Program Director of Global Supplier Diversity, Michael K. Robinson, received the Executive Leadership Award at the 2011 Congressional Minority Business Awards Gala, and he was recognized by Asian Enterprise Magazine as their Advocate of the Year. In 2010 Michael was honored by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) as the 2010 Minority Supplier Development Leader of the Year.

In addition to the NMSDC, IBM is a founding member of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, United States Business Leadership Network and the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council. IBM participates in additional international organizations focused on supplier diversity, such as the Australian Indigenous Minority Supplier Council, Minority Supplier Development United Kingdom, Minority Supplier Development China, South African Minority Supplier Development, WEConnect Canada, WEConnect Europe, WEConnect India and the International Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Since the inception of IBM’s Supplier Diversity Program, IBM has received hundreds of awards in recognition of its efforts. In the past 11 years, the company has received more than 100 corporate and individual awards from local, regional, national and federal entities. This past year was particularly noteworthy, as IBM’s efforts in maintaining a diverse supply chain were recognized by more than two dozen organizations. Among the top honors were:

  • Top Corporation by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
  • US Department of Energy’s Mentor Award
  • Champion of Veterans Enterprise Award from the National Veterans Small Business Coalition
  • Recognition by the USHCC (US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) as a member of their Million Dollar Club
  • Induction into the WBE (Women Business Enterprise) Hall of Fame
  • 2011 Executive Leadership Award presented to Michael Robinson at the Congressional Minority Business Awards Ceremony
  • Supplier Diversity Corporation of the Year by the USBLN (United States Business Leadership Network) for accomplishments with the Disability Supplier Diversity Program

Looking forward, IBM plans to grow the diversity of its supply chain as our business needs continually evolve. IBM works with its supply chain teams to clearly define its requirements in both direct and indirect supply areas, and IBM has actively sought and worked with diverse suppliers that might be able to meet those requirements over time. And we continue to work with diverse suppliers—especially our second- and third-tier suppliers—to help them grow their capacity. This work will continue for many years to come.

$1 billion IBM is the first IT company to do more than $1 billion of business with diverse suppliers in the United States

$3.2 billion of business across the world with first- and second-tier diverse suppliers in 2011.

Amount of IBM business conducted with first-tier diverse suppliers

2009 $2.1 billion

2010 $2.3 billion

2011 $2.5 billion

$881 million of business with first-tier, non-US-based diverse suppliers in 2011.